Saturday, March 4, 2017

Go Green

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It is now no longer about skills. Australia have assaulted India's pride. India might think it's about lack of proper judgement on part of their batsmen, Virat Kohli might admonish his fellow batsmen all he wants for not adapting or applying themselves. That is not going to salvage this series.

The desire that Australia have shown to keep the Border-Gavaskar trophy with themselves seems to have shocked the Indian team into a state of immobility. That Australia have not rolled over into submission as they were expected to have left the Indian team without the back to stand up to Australia's spinners.

Before this long Indian home season, Kohli had marked England among the visiting teams as the team to watch out for. Perhaps he was playing mind games with Australia. Either that has backfired or he was simply wrong in his assessment.

Perhaps India are simply mentally tired after a long home season. May be they did underestimate Australia even though they may never admit it. Perhaps it's just a case of Australia being too good for India so far. There was always the possibility of Australia's spin, with top class pace support and the prolific Steve Smith against India would make this a competitive series. No one was counting on Australia producing such a dominant performance.

There is no precedent to a visiting team felling India's famed batsmen under 200 in 3 straight innings. The response then also needs to be something that is unprecedented. Playing to their traditional strengths has been a shocking failure.

They can't seem to get Steve Smith out before he reaches three figures and they can barely last 2 or 3  sessions against Nathan Lyon and Steve O'Keefe. And KL Rahul's optimism about R Ashwin running through Australia on day 2 appears firmly grounded in delusion. Steve Smith himself has scored a comparable number of runs against India in the last 3 innings than the whole of India's batting has scored against Australia. It is beginning to feel like 20 of Steve Smiths 18 Test 100s have come against India.

Unless something remarkable happens tomorrow this is looking like 0-4 for India. Perhaps too early and irresposible to make it a prediction but after all we do know the making of a white wash feels like around this point in a series.

The only way I think India can now salvage this series is to swallow their pride about spin, and try to trip Australia on green tops. Nathan Lyon and Steve O'Keefe who were scoffed at before the tour are now the most fearsome duo of bowlers ever to visit India.
To take them out of the game is India's best option if they lose this test too to Australian spin.

Among the many things so refreshing about Virat Kohli is how he has kept his fast bowlers engaged even in home conditions. It's time to ask them to salvage this series. Results from 3 innings is good enough to conceded that our batsmen can't handle Lyon and O'Keefe. Let's ask Australia to deal with our fast men. Surely they didn't come prepared for that.